In 1903 two unlikely outdoorsmen from New York City (and their mixed-blood Indian guide) canoed about 150 miles into a barren unexplored region of Labrador. Armed with optimism and romantic notions, they made every mistake in the book; only 2 made it back alive. Similar to Into the Wild
these sorts of things occasionally happen and the story might be long forgotten, but Dillon Wallace wrote a book about it, and Bully, what a book. Teddy Roosevelt raved and it became an immediate best-seller. From the start Wallace sets a tone of impending doom and deepening dread. We watch with bemused tragedy as they make one mistake after another while the humble repressed "mixed breed" Elson rises up to become the strongest and smartest of the three. It's a romantic story told with great emotion and care, set in the bleak but unspoiled wilderness of Labrador.
The story became legend because of the book. Hubbard's widow, Mina, retraced the expedition in 1905 and wrote her own book. Wallace also retraced the journey in 1905, and wrote another book. The 1988 book Great Heart
, a modern retelling of the expedition, is included on National Geographic's list of the 100 best outdoor books
of all time. In 2008, a documentary was made called The Last Explorer
. Lakes were named by Hubbard and Wallace that still retain those names to this day. In Labrador the book is famous, although granted it only has about 25,000 people.
I followed along using Google Maps
. It wasn't easy, I initially thought it was a different river, ironically the same mistake they made in 1903! Fortunately it didn't cost my life. This is a great introduction to one of the last wild places on Earth, and also a great piece of outdoor literature. The book reads surprisingly contemporary, the writing has held up well.
Read via LibriVox, narrated by Tom Weiss
. Tom's narration is excellent.